As technology has progressed, the need for physical drawings and documents has diminished in many industries. However, there are still a few key areas where printed or plotted drawings are essential, such as architecture and engineering fields.


Printers typically use one of two technologies: inkjet or laser. Inkjet printers work by spraying tiny droplets of ink onto the paper, while laser printers use a charged photoconductor drum to attract toner particles, which are then transferred to the paper.


Plotters are large-format printers that are typically used for printing architectural or engineering drawings. They use various technologies, but the most common is Inkjet plotters, which print by propelling droplets of ink onto the paper.


If you’re not sure which technology is right for your needs, here are five significant differences between printers and plotters that you should consider:


1. Resolution


Printers and plotters are two very different beasts when it comes to resolution. It is the number of dots per inch (dpi) that a printer or plotter can produce. The higher the resolution, the greater the level of detail that can be printed.


Printers typically have a much higher resolution than plotters. This is because printers use inkjet or laser technology to print onto paper, which allows for a very high level of detail.


On the other hand, plotters use a pen-like device to draw images onto paper. It means that plotters can only achieve a relatively low level of detail.


The higher resolution of printers makes them ideal for printing photos and other images that require fine detail. However, the lower resolution of plotters is often sufficient for drawings and other documents that don’t need to be super sharp.


2. Speed


Printers are generally much slower than plotters. This is because inkjet printers, like all ink-based printers, spray tiny droplets of ink onto paper. Electrostatic printing, on the other hand, is a technology used by plotters that is considerably more efficient.


The speed advantage of plotters can be significant in some applications. For example, if you need to print large-format drawings or blueprints, a plotter can do the job in a fraction of the time it would take a printer.


3. Size


Printers are limited by the size of their paper feed, whereas plotters can accommodate much larger sheets. This is because plotters use a flatbed design, which allows them to hold the media in place while the printhead moves across it.


This also means that plotters are generally much faster than printers, as they don’t have to stop and reload media as often. Additionally, plotters can usually print on both sides of the media, increasing their efficiency.


4. Print Quality


Inkjet printers produce photo-quality prints by spraying ink directly onto the paper.


The print head contains tiny nozzles that release droplets of ink onto the paper, absorbed by the paper to create the image. Inkjet printers are ideal for printing photos and color documents.


Plotters, on the other hand, use pens to draw images on paper. The plotter moves the pen across the paper to create the image, line by line. Plotters are more accurate than inkjet printers and can produce larger prints.


5. Maintenance Difference


The biggest difference between printer and plotter is how they are maintained. Printers require regular changing of ink cartridges and other consumables, as well as occasional deep cleanings to prevent clogs.


Plotters, on the other hand, have very few moving parts and can go for much longer periods without requiring maintenance.


Printer and Plotter Technology – Which One Should You Settle For?


Now that we have looked at the key differences between printers and plotters, it’s time to decide which technology is right for your needs.


If you need to produce high-quality prints quickly and cost-effectively, then a printer is likely your best option.


However, if you’re willing to sacrifice some print quality for a lower price tag, then a plotter may be a better choice. Whichever technology you choose, make sure to do your research beforehand so that you can select the best machine for your specific needs.


Bottom Line


If you need high-quality, large-format printing, then a plotter is the way to go. However, if you don’t need such high-quality printing and you’re working with smaller documents, then a printer will probably suffice.


Printers are also much less expensive than plotters, so they may be a better option for those on a budget. Whichever route you choose, be sure to do your research so that you end up with the right machine for your needs.




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